July 10, 2010

CSA - Week 5

This week's share included garlic, yellow squash, zucchini, red potatoes, popcorn, sugar peas, yellow beans, eggs, blueberries, banana peppers, and cucumbers. Now we're talking! Here it is a week later, and I haven't even used everything I received. I'm still waiting for some inspiration for my banana peppers (salad, sandwich?), my popcorn is piling up (that's ok, it will keep), and I still have some leftovers: sugar peas (I just snacked on them raw), yellow beans, and potatoes.

I made something special with the zucchini - but it deserves it's own post, so stay tuned.

I added the blueberries to plain yogurt every day for a mid-morning snack. I switched from sweetened yogurt to plain a few years ago and have never looked back. Well, occasionally I have had sweetened yogurt since the switch, but it tastes like candy. So once you get used to plain yogurt, it's fabulous! I've tried several brands, but the one that tastes the best to me is Dannon, full-fat of course. I enjoy yogurt plain, but often add fresh berries.

I made more bread and butter pickles to top off my hamburger.  The batch of pickles I made a few weeks ago was gone within a few days.  I ate them like candy.  I don't even like pickles!  Well, I guess I like them if they're homemade.

My hamburger was accompanied by grilled potatoes on my cast iron grill pan. To do so, boil the potatoes whole for 15 minutes or so (depends on the size of the potatoes) until a fork can be inserted, but with some resistance. You don't want to cook them all the way so that they'll be firm enough to be grilled. Remove from water, allow to cool slightly. Slice into wedges and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and other desired seasonings. Grill until crispy.

I roasted the yellow beans tossed with olive oil and coarse salt in a 450 oven for about 20 minutes (toss the beans halfway through) or until they become spotted and slightly shriveled. Green beans can also be roasted this way. If you don't like beans, try them this way and I guarantee you will eat them.

I love to saute zucchini in a pan, so if I haven't tucked the zucchini into a baked good, I never have a hard time using it up. Yellow squash is a different story, though. It tastes okay sauteed, but I'd rather not eat it. I made this squash gratin several times last summer. It is scrumptious. You can make it with a mixture of yellow squash and zucchini, but I prefer to just use the yellow. I've made it with both feta and gruyere cheese. The gruyere is more decadent, but also more expensive. I toasted my whole wheat bread and processed it to make the bread crumbs. Also this time I used homemade basil pesto instead of the sauce in the recipe, which worked great.

Summer Squash Gratin
from 101cookbooks.com

Be sure to slice your potatoes as thin as possible. They get all melty and creamy. Slice them too thick and you'll have trouble cooking them through because the zucchini cooks up more quickly. I use a box grater to shred the cheese here (as opposed to a micro-plane) - you get heartier, less whispy pieces of cheese which is what you want here. I'd also strongly recommend homemade bread crumbs here (see asterisk below).

zest of one lemon
1 1/2 pounds summer squash or zucchini, cut into 1/6th-inch slices
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs*
1/2 pound waxy potatoes, sliced transparently thin
3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese, grated on a box grater (or crumbled feta)

Preheat oven to 400F degrees and place a rack in the middle. Rub a 9x9 gratin pan (or equivalent baking dish) with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with lemon zest, and set aside.

Place the zucchini slices into a colander placed over a sink, toss with the sea salt and set aside for 10-15 minutes (to drain a bit) and go on to prepare the oregano sauce and bread crumbs.

Make the sauce by pureeing the oregano, parsley, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes, and olive oil in a food processor or using a hand blender. Set aside.

Make the breadcrumbs by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until the butter is wonderfully fragrant, and has turned brown. Wait two minutes, then stir the breadcrumbs into the browned butter.

Transfer the squash to a large mixing bowl. Add the potatoes and two-thirds of the oregano sauce. Toss until everything is well coated. Add the cheese and half of the bread crumbs and toss again. Taste one of the zucchini pieces and add more seasoning (salt or red pepper) if needed.

Transfer the squash to the lemon-zested pan, top with the remaining crumbs, and bake for somewhere between 40 and 50 minutes - it will really depend on how thinly you sliced the squash and potatoes - and how much moisture was still in them. You don't want the zucchini to go to mush, but you need to be sure the potatoes are fully baked. If the breadcrumbs start to get a little dark, take a fork and rake them just a bit, that will uncover some of the blonder bits. Remove from oven, and drizzle with the remaining oregano sauce.

Serves about 8 as a side.

*To make breadcrumbs cut the crust off 2-3 day old artisan bread. Tear into pieces the size of your thumb, and give a quick whirl in the food processor. Feel free to leave the pieces on the large size - more like little pebbles than grains of sand.

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